(By Buck Ballard) Every Sunday evening will find me downstairs in my home studio. My son Don will be joining me via Google Hangouts at about 8:30 p.m. I’ll fire up the live audio feed, Facebook live, and the recorder at 8:45 p.m., sharp. The Trucking Podcast with Buck Ballard and Don The Beer Guy is live.
We’ve been publishing episodes since April 2014, but I have to admit, this podcast is best described as an accident. My adventure into podcasting started two years earlier, back in 2012. After 100 episodes of a solo podcast, a few things were obvious. I really enjoyed producing audio content, and there was money to be made if I could drive traffic to a website. The final lesson was a little tougher. Alone, I’m just not entertaining. I was more than a little lost when I parked my podcast with 135 listeners.
Bringing our son Don on board was my wife’s suggestion. She new I enjoyed podcasting, and I’m pretty sure I knew what was going through her mind. “It’s a lot cheaper than a bass boat and it keeps him home.” I loved the idea of a co-host and began talking about options with Don. He was all in. We’re both truck drivers, and I already owned the domain name, truckingpodcast.com.
Most fathers wish they’d spent more time with their sons, and I’m no different. Podcasting proved to me that it’s never too late. Although it’s called The Trucking Podcast we cover a wide range of topics. Our target audience is the American truck driver, so most of our topics are male oriented. It’s more guy talk than trucking. We’re both gear-heads. Cars, pickups, and garage talk often dominate the show, and I’m fine with that.
We stopped counting episodes back around 214, but we must be close to 300 by now. My wife Kris often joins us to handle the chat with the live feeds. She’s known as the Castle Curator. Checks roll in from sponsors, affiliates, and ads, and it’s a pretty cool feeling to share the financial rewards with our son. It’s not life-changing money, but it’s a car payment or a few utility bills. And I know he’d still be here if the money dried up tomorrow.
Today, this dream of earning extra income with a podcast has passed proof of concept, and I’m more passionate than ever. We’ve launched a second podcast, Tom and Kris Camping. Don often joins us as co-host. In an effort to grow TomandKrisCamping.com we’ve recently brought on our twin daughters as freelance writers. With eight grandchildren between our three kids, I’m sure they can all use a little extra income.
2018 is the first year we really looked at what we’re doing online as a business. I know I’m not going to be the next Marc Maron, but I’ve carved out a niche and spent more time than most learning from my mistakes.
The goal now is to build these two shows into something that offers our children enough side income to cover their house payments, along with sweetening the pot of our own future retirement.
I’ve done quite a few things right, and that’s been huge. Quality Web-hosting for the sites, using a media host with some great features, and paying an annual subscription for independent music helped us go beyond podcast players and get into iHeartRadio and Spotify. Those websites are my baby, but every single post is reviewed by a highly qualified proofreader: the Castle Curator.
A lot has changed since April 2014. What started in a makeshift studio in our western Wisconsin garage, now takes place in a basement studio in Green Bay, Wisconsin. With Don now 240 miles away, Sunday night is often the only time we talk in any given week. But we do send stories and comments back and forth, planning for the next show.
I still don’t see as much of him and his family as I would like, but we have something unique and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. If you asked me for a short description of what it’s like to co-host a podcast with my son, I’d tell you what listeners tell us repeatedly in emails: “It’s like you and Don are talking in the garage and I’m sitting in the corner, just listening in.”